What does the following list of (for the most part obscure) pitchers have in common?
- Felix Doubront
- Mike Dupree
- Juan Eichelberger
- Jim Foor
- Roger Hambright
- Bill Harrelson
- Hunter Harvey
- Justin Marks
- Ryan Meisinger
- Steve Mintz
- George Piktuzis
- Cliff Politte
- Daniel Ponce de Leon
- Jake Smolinski
- Ken Turner
- Rob Woodward
Before you answer: “None of them has been in my kitchen” these 16 pitchers share a (negative) accomplishment that no other pitcher in MLB history has. By the way, Eichelberger was the only player to have this happen to him on the Braves. The fact that there are 16 pitchers with this feature is what surprised me. Answer at the end for those who want to think about it first, but don’t put too much effort in; I’m pretty sure you have no chance.
Time for some honesty. I saw the last two outs of this game. They were really good. But honestly I expected to get back to my hotel room in time to watch the bottom of the 9th, but there was no bottom of the 9th. Then I went back and read Michael’s intro and I can say without any hesitation — sure, this could be the win that turns the team around…. or not. There is a concept in the stock market called the dead cat bounce. The idea is that a stock on its way to bankruptcy will often have a brief rally just before collapsing entirely, just as a dead cat dropped from a ten story building will, after hitting the ground, temporarily be a little higher. I would love for Thursday to have been the true bottom for this team.
Anyway, that’s my new prediction: the Braves carry a no hitter into the 7th for every game the rest of the season and outscore their opponents 400-0 in the next 100 games. And by the way, I’m not watching another inning (other than the last two outs) if that’s what it takes to make that a reality. You heard it here first. I’ll start watching again when and if the Braves have a game worse than tonight’s game. I will not be a cause of disappointment, except to my wife.
Those for whom this recap seems a little skimpy (and I’m one of them) can find that ESPN pays people to do them here.
These are the only 16 pitchers in baseball history who gave up a home run on every at-bat to a batter who had the same first name they did. Their victims, in order: Felix Pie, Mike Schmidt, Juan Samuel, Jim Nettles, Roger Repoz, Bill Freehan, Hunter Dozier, Justin Smoak, Ryan O’Hearn, Steve Pegues (twice!), George Crowe, Cliff Floyd, Daniel Murphy, Jake Marisnick, Ken McMullen and Rob Deer (twice!).
Think of the things that have to come together to make this list. First, you have to have a name just unusual enough, or a career just short enough, that you only face one other batter with the same first name as yours. (If you faced more than one, that would count too, but you have to give up a homer every time. That has never happened.) Then, in your limited interactions, you have to give up a homer every time. (Note that before he hit his homer against him, Cliff Politte intentionally walked Cliff Floyd twice, but those weren’t at-bats.)
For active pitchers of course, they can fall off the list. All they have to do is face another player with their first name and keep the ball in the park. (I should add that I am not parsing names here. I’m just using what my source, Chadwick’s Register uses as a first name. So, for example, Daniel Vogelbach is listed as “Dan,” so his at-bats against Daniel Ponce de Leon don’t count, even though BRef lists him as “Daniel.” I have over 18 million data points here, with over 2 million batter-pitcher pairs, so I have to depend on this sort of thing, or go even crazier than I’ve gone chasing down edge cases. So Daniel Ponce de Leon, if you want to sue for defamation, take it up with the file on Chadwick.)
The impetus for this, by the way, was when Luke Jackson faced Luke Williams last week. It got me to create four datasets: how every pitcher and batter did in their careers, how they did when they faced someone with the same first name, how they did when they faced someone with the same last name, and the 56 total at bats between a batter and pitcher with the same name. 24 of those at bats were Dave Roberts against Dave Roberts (neither of whom manages the Dodgers), and another 19 were Chris Young against Chris Young, if you’re interested. (Will Smith vs. Will Smith in last year’s playoffs is the only home run that comes out of those at-bats.) Why do I do this stuff? Because, as coop has surmised, I’m (a) skilled in database analysis and (b) not entirely sane.